Blackman, Lisa. Introduction: Thinking Through The Body

Blackman, Lisa. “Introduction: Thinking Through The Body.” The Body: The Key Concepts. Oxford New York: Berg, 2008. 1-13. Print.

To remember:

  • [AnneMarie Mol] argues that the body is not bounded by the skin, where we understand the skin to be a kind of container for the self, but rather our bodies always extend and connect to other bodies, human and non-human, to practices, techniques, technologies and objects which produce different kinds of bodies in different ways, arguably, of enacting what it means to be human (1).
  • ‘Thinking through the body’ creates an important challenge for reimagining possible solutions to some of the frameworks which have organized theorizing across the humanities … The reformulations of ‘the body’ and bodies across the humanities have also demanded a reengagement with method (2).
  • What does it mean to offer a social or cultural analysis of bodies, and is the addition of ‘the social’ part of the problem in ‘thinking through the body’? (2)
  • ‘to achieve an adequate analysis of the body we need to regard it as a material, physical and biological phenomenon which is irreducible to immediate social processes or classifications (Schilling 1993: 10). This gesture toward the interplay of biological, physical and social processes may not seem so radical in the context of how we might embody our own sense of subjectivity (3).
  • One of the problems central to the call to ‘think through the body’ is exactly how we can bring together processes that are often viewed as separate entities (3).
  • One of the key splits or separations that have been reproduced in different ways across the natural and human sciences is the body-mind dualism … The mind is the location of thought and the body is the location of a fixed set of physiological process (4).
  • we need to be aware of both the bodily basis of thought and the cognitive component of bodily processes and vice versa. We also need to move beyond thinking of bodies as substances, as special kinds of thing or entities, to explore bodies as sites of potentiality, process and practice (5).
  • When we write or read we take up particular bodily orientations: posture, musculature, breathing and certain habits or dispositions. We do not simply think, but relate to the keyboard or book through particular bodily dispositions and practices … the body is never simply left behind (6).
  • Culture is about sense-making. Although the sense in sense-making might make us think of a more sensient body it is generally linked to interpretation, to judgement and ultimately to the work of thought … the body seems to have disappeared again, or at least to merely be an absent present (6-7).
  • [in ‘body theory’: corporeal, somatic, material often viewed as interchangeable, but sometimes have specific meaning] (7).
  • ‘body studies’ is markedly transdisciplinary and crosses over the borders and boundaries between psychology, sociology, cultural theory, anthropology (7).
  • Mystery, wonder and intrigue will undoubtedly mark this journey (7).

Connectings between human and animal are creative processes of coming to be. Putting into question humanist assumptions, I propose that we are always already part horse, and horses, part human; there is no such thing as pure horse or pure human. The human body is not simply human. -Game, ‘Riding: Embodying the Centaur’

  • [separation is central to how we perceive the body] (8)
  • Game describes how her eventual successful attempt … came about through forgetting that she was separate from the animal … This intimate connection is described by Game as attunement or entraining … Both … assume that it is possible to develop a kind of ‘sensitive feel’ where you can connect in very subtle ways with the world around you (9).
  • the ‘somatically felt body’ … is one that is never singular and never bounded so that we clearly know where we end and another begins [challenges Cartesian dualism] The affective body is considered permeable to the ‘outside’ so that the very distinction between the inside and the outside as fixed and absolute is put into question (10).
  • The concept of social influence – the language of two separate yet proximate domains of influence – is thoroughly entrenched in our everyday understandings of the body. This is particularly so in our lexicon of emotions and body language (11)
  • This focus on the normative body, and the formation of identity, will draw out the broader processes of power, ideology, marginalization and inequality, which frame bodies and identity (12).
  • abjection[:] the intense feelings of disgust that we might have when certain borders and boundaries are crossed, These include the inside and outside, and surface and depth (12).
  • the lived body troubles the idea that the biological and the cultural are two separate, distinct identities (12).
  • we are never a singular body, but are multiple bodies that are brought into being and held together through complex practices of self-production (12-3).

To consume:

  • Nikolas Rose, Governing the Soul, Inventing Ourselves, Powers of Freedom, The Politics of Life Itself
  • AnneMarie Mol, The Body Multiple
  • Chris Shilling, The Body and Social Theory
  • Roy Porter, Flesh in the Age of Reason
  • Ann Game, Riding: Embodying the Centaur
  • R.D. Laing, Wisdom, Madness and Folly
  • Maxine Sheets-Johnston, Giving the Body its Due, The Primacy of Movement
  • Mike Featherstone, Hepworth and Turner, The Body: Social Process and Cultural Theory
  • Bryan Turner, The Body and Society
  • Ian Burkitt, Bodies of Thought
  • Alan Petersen and Robin Bunton, Foucault, Health and Medicine
  • Gary Kinsman, Responsibility as a Strategy of Governance
  • Beverley Skeggs, Formations of Class and Gender, Class, Self and Culture
  • Judith Butler, Gender Trouble, Bodies That Matter, Precarious Life, Undoing Gender
  • Barbara Creed, The Monstrous Feminine
  • Jay Prosser, Second Skins: The Body Narratives of Transsexuality
  • Judith Halberstam, Female Masculinity, In a Queer Time and Place
  • Jackie Stacey, Teratologies: A Cultural Study of Cancer
  • Pasi Falk, The Consuming Body
  • AnneMarie Mol and John Law, Embodied Action, Enacted Bodies
  • more about social constructionist/semiotic traditions
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One thought on “Blackman, Lisa. Introduction: Thinking Through The Body

  1. Pingback: performing empathies [the empathics] | {kin}aesthetic composure

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